Tag Archives: science-fiction

May 2019 Recommended Books

Last month I read a few more nonfiction books than I normally do, so they took the place of the fantasy and science-fiction novels I have from the library. But I still found some really great ones out of what I read!

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Every Heart a Doorway
by Seanan McGuire
(Fantasy)

This was the most poignant book I read last month, dealing with belonging, sense of self and the pain of others’ rejection of that self. What I found so intriguing was the story takes that particular order as well, with each character having found the place they belong, finding themselves within that place and then their newly-realized self being rejected by their home or their parents,etc. Very often you’d see this story unfold the opposite direction, with characters discovering themselves and then finding the place they belong. There’s a desperation in each of these young people that is achingly similar, yet their very desires are so different from one another.

The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst
(High Fantasy)

Are you surprised to see this book on my rec list this month? I tried my best to save this novel for June, but my willpower fizzled. I adored going back to Renthia and being introduced to an entirely new region. The islands have their own harsh rules in this world, many born from necessity, and the characters all respond to those restrictions and trials in their own ways, though each of them has the hope of seeing something better for the future. Loved this book and hope dearly that Ms. Durst writes more in Renthia, no matter where she sets the stories.

Mechanical Failure by Joe Zieja
(Humorous Military Sci-Fi)

This book did not take itself seriously and was amazing for that fact! The story gave me some Catch-22 vibes, where much of the humor resides in the absurdness of the situations with a character who doesn’t truly know what he’s doing or even if he wants to be doing it. There are many instances of poking fun at science fiction cliches or military expectations, but done in a good-natured way that the entire story leaves you with a smile on your face.

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Historical Nebula Nomination Read Series [1965] Introduction

In my lack of infinite wisdom, I’ve decided to go on an auspicious journey to expand my horizons. Let me sum up.

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy for as long as I can remember, generally like most writers of the genres, however there are a ton of books I haven’t touched. No matter how many authors I’ve read, there are dozens more I haven’t, including some of the classics in sci-fi and fantasy.

At first, I just started picking up random older, less-known books along with some of the famous ones I’d previously skipped, but I didn’t have much order to my findings and readings and, let’s face it, I was searching for authors, most of whom I was already familiar to at least some degree. When trying to come up with further lists of books to look into, I kept finding the same exact books being recommended time and time again, with little variation or imagination to the recommendations. Which was…frustrating.

Then I thought, what about the nominated books that didn’t end up winning a Hugo or a Nebula or didn’t end up skyrocketing into fame? When we talk about the nominations in current years we usually consider many of them worthy of the award, yet there are always those who think a different story should have beat out the others for the top spot. (There are also books that some people think are snubbed from year to year in terms of nominations themselves, but unfortunately, that’s not something I can easily look up.)

But I can easily look up the Hugo and Nebula nominations and wins. And wouldn’t it be fun to read all the noms in previous years (just as people have done or are doing with this years nominations) and then determine which book I personally would have wanted to win that year?

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do! Starting with the Nebulas.

1965 is up first. Of the 12 nominees (yes, 12, but 1966 only had 3 and 2 of them jointly won, so it evens out) I’ve only read Dune, which isn’t surprising because it won the first Nebula and is one of the most famous science-fiction novels of all time. I’m planning on rereading it, along with reading the other 11 books for the first time. They are:

  • The Star Fox by Poul Anderson
  • Nova Express by William S. Burroughs
  • Rogue Dragon by Avram Davidson
  • Dr. Bloodmoney by Phillip K. Dick
  • The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Phillip K Dick
  • The Genocides by Thomas M Disch
  • The Ship that Sailed the Time Stream by G C Edmondson
  • A Plague of Demons by Keith Laumer
  • All Flesh is Grass by Clifford D Simak
  • The Clone by Theodore L Thomas & Kate Wilhelm
  • The Escape Orbit by James White
  • Dune by Frank Herbert

There’s a possibility I may have to read a total of 14 books before this is finished since Borroughs’ Nova Express is the third book in what looks like a trilogy and I prefer to start at the beginning. But what’s another couple of books :)

I let my daughter choose which book I started with: Rogue Dragon. Not surprised in the least. It has the word dragon in it and that’s far more interesting to an 8 year old than the rest of those titles.

One more thing to note: I read Dune a long time ago, so nostalgia can easily bias this first year’s pick when all books have been read. I’m going to do my best to read without the nostalgia, but eradicating my emotions completely isn’t possible, so I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I may just choose Dune, along with the rest of the voters in 1966, because of youthful love. Yet the point is to read, to experience, so whether or not that happens, I’m still gaining.

Will be writing a check-in blog in June to note my thoughts on the books I’ll have finished thus far :)

April 2019 Recommended Books

One of the books I read this past month was Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu–read to my daughter. There were so many references to other famous stories and fairy tales that I realized she wasn’t familiar with yet, so we got an abrupt jump to the length of our list of to-read together.

As for my favorites, these stories I’m recommending because I enjoyed them the most out of everything I read :)

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The Ingenious by Darius Hinks
(Dark Fantasy)

This was my absolute favorite book of April. The description of the City drew me to this novel in the first place–a city that absorbs people, culture and even land and then moves on after a few years to another place, creating a setting filled with thousands of years of possibility and differences. The whole of the story held a haunting, somber feel while you follow a woman dealing with layers of addiction who yet is still striving to stand up to the heavy expectations thrust on her at an early age. I found the story powerful and the writing beautiful, painfully beautiful at times when it seems as if Hinks was mixing the fugue-filled state of Isten within the storytelling.

The Reluctant Queen & The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst
(High Fantasy)

It’s not often you read about a woman heroine with kids. Not unless the kids are dead, long moved beyond needing mothering or the kids show up at the end as part of the happily ever after. So maybe I’m a tiny bit biased, but I loved getting to read from the perspective of a woman who doesn’t have illusions of grandeur, doesn’t have the desires that spark grand, sprawling adventures and is making most of her choices based on what’s best for her family rather than the rest of the world. And the world of Renthia is still its conflicted self, dark, yet filled with possibility. There were a few obvious plot threads, but when the world is this magical and the story fun, I care far less about being completely surprised at every turn. (Yep, The Deepest Blue is on my list to read come May! Already have it on my bookshelf taunting me!)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
(Mythological Romance)

I read Circe last year and absolutely adored the story, so picking up its predecessor this year was a no-brainer. I admit, Achilles wasn’t what I expected. I thought there would be more focus on the retelling of the Iliad section of the novel, less focus on Patroclus and Achilles growing up. More grittiness and less drama, yet I found I loved it regardless of expectations. This novel is essentially a crème de la crème of gay fantasy romance and while it’s not so much a retelling of Greek myth, it uses the setting beautifully. And now I have to wait for Miller to write a new book because there is no more back-list to mine.

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A mention I want to add: I read Foundation (Isaac Asimov) for the first time in April. I’d read all his robots books as a youth and loved them; have reread The Caves of Steel multiple times. While I found Foundation interesting, it wasn’t as eye-opening and intriguing as I think it might have been had I read it while still young enough to be surprised by some of the changes to the economy. I also read Hyperion for the first time, however, I’m holding out on a complete opinion until after I read through more of the series. So much world-building though!

March 2019 Recommended Books

I haven’t had much action going on in the submission/publication department, but even with this dearth, I’ve been keeping busy the past few years with reading, writing and general lifey-type things. Since I’ve begun (again) the ever-consistent process of submitting, I thought I would at least keep better track of what I’ve been reading. And then, since I’ve been keeping track, I can now look back over and consider which books I’d recommend to friends (or at least to friends who enjoy similar genres XD)

So, here are my favorite books that I read in March!

The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst
(Dark/High Fantasy)

This was a delicious blend of the macabre and the fanciful that I wasn’t quite expecting when I began, but absolutely adored by the end! The spirits in this story are disturbing, strange and carry all of the wrath of old fae-type legends and makes for a scary undertone in an otherwise beautiful setting. Incredibly quick-paced, even during its comparatively slower portions during the lead’s training sections. I loved that there was a welcoming inclusion of female friendships (the women more often working together despite the competitive nature of their chosen path in the world) that didn’t overshadow the rest of the adventure and action. Recommend to anyone who isn’t afraid of a little death and dismemberment ;)

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
(Science-fiction)

Finally picked these four books up, though I don’t know why it took me so long considering I’m a big fan of Wells’ Raksura books. All Systems Red has been on my list since it came out and I just kept adding to it with each subsequent publication. A part of me is glad I waited though, because I got to read them back to back without much break between to forget details of the stories. They’re each a fun romp with an interesting lead who is constantly balancing its own secrets with its desire to protect the humans around it. Each story revolves around a new (or newish) conflict, goal and enemy, with the lovable rogue SecUnit at its core. They’re softer sci-fi, more focused on the character of Murderbot and its introspection and humanization, though they don’t delve too far into what it means to be human, keeping instead to the adventure and character development of Murderbot itself. I think I liked that best about the story overall, because it was a beautiful story about someone who didn’t want to be anything but itself in a world that expected it to want to be something it wasn’t.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
(YA Historical Fantasy)

I hadn’t tried Chokshi before so this book was a fun surprise. The Forging abilities were not only fresh and interesting in a magical design sense, but they were also embedded in every scene, on every page, in both the history of the world and in the details of the everyday. At its core, the story is a heist, with puzzles and math and specialized characters each with their own unique views and skills. It is YA, but it’s most definitely open to a wider audience. Even if you don’t generally enjoy historical settings, I think you’ll like this one because it’s put together beautifully.

Ship of Smoke And Steel by Django Wexler
(YA Fantasy)

This was another author I had not tried before; I had a few of them this month hoping to find some new fun adventures for my bookshelf. This one made me pick it up because…ghost ship! And the ship was just as intriguing in the reading as it was before I opened the book, and a whole lot bigger. You could call the Solitan a labyrinth it’s so huge. There are strange creatures and ghostly mysteries, not all of which are solved by the end of the book, but enough to leave you satisfied. I’d say, that although the genre is considered YA, the novel feels geared toward an older YA to adult audience given some of the more gritty representation and blunt, experienced characters.

Space Unicorn Blues by T J Berry
(Science Fantasy)

Another one with an interesting ship concept, this time in space. I admit, the Jaggery, a living ship where the bulk of this story takes place, is part of why I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. (It has a lake and a secret network of tiny tunnels for all its dwarves!) That, and the interesting blend of sci-fi and fantasy that often had a comical undertone to it despite the dark situations. As for the characters, there’s a half-unicorn, a disabled ex-military, a trans ‘business-woman’, and a grizzled older pilot, all of whom have lost and suffered because of choices they’ve made in the past. The fact that these characters had to deal with actual loss because of past (and later current) choices, made this story more layered than just what seems to be on the surface.

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I did read more science-fiction novels in March, but unfortunately they weren’t quite for me. Maybe next month! I also read a couple of older books, including a few Agatha Christie. I started a quest to read her work a few years ago and I don’t think I’m even half-way through yet, but I’m three books closer :) They’re nice, calming stories that are good to read as almost a reset button if I’ve struggled to enjoy the last few books.

SF Sale

Just a quick note to say I’ve sold a science-fiction story. Go here for more details.